Both John McCain and Barack Obama attended the Al Smith dinner, a traditional gathering of mostly New York Democrats devoted mainly to humor. Both candidates gave funny, self-deprecating speeches. A sample:
“This is a very distinguished and influential audience and as good a place as any to make a major announcement,” McCain said. “Events are moving fast in my campaign. And, yes, it is true that this morning I dismissed my entire team of senior advisors. All of their positions will now be held by a man named ‘Joe The Plumber.’
“Already my friends, my opponents have been subjecting Joe to their vicious attack machine. His voracity has been questioned by Barack Obama’s running mate, ‘Joe The 6-Term Senator.’ He claims that this honest, hard working small business man could not possibly have enough income to face a tax increase under the Obama plan. What they don’t know is Joe The Plumber recently signed a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle all the work on all seven of their houses.” . . .
“This campaign needed the common touch of the working man. After all, it began so long ago with the heralded arrival of the man known to Oprah Winfrey as ‘The One.’ Being a friend and colleague of Barack I just called him ‘That One,’” McCain said in reference to his bully-like tactics in the second presidential debate. “He doesn’t mind at all. In fact, he even has a pet name for me: ‘George Bush.’” . . . .
“It’s been that kind of contest and I come here tonight to the Al Smith Dinner knowing I’m the underdog in these final weeks, but if you know where to look there are signs of hope, even in the most unexpected of places, even in the room filled with proud Manhattan Democrats. I can’t shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me.
“I’m delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary.” . . .
Obama later took the podium and said he’s not necessarily “the chosen one,” but could in fact be a superhero.
“For the last few weeks John has been out on the campaign trail asking this question: Who is Barack Obama? I have to admit I was a little surprised by this question. The answer is right there on my Facebook page,” Obama said. “But look, I don’t want to be coy about this. We’re a couple weeks away from an important election. Americans have a big choice to make, and if anyone feels like they don’t know me by now, let me give them some answers …
“Who is Barack Obama? Contrary to the rumors you may have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.”
He then launched into the genealogy of his birth name.
“Many of you know I got my name, Barack, from my father,” Obama said. “It’s actually Swahili for ‘That One.’
“And I got my middle name, obviously, from someone who never thought I’d be running for president.”